Alex Despatie is one of Canada’s most successful and respected athletes. A world champion diver and two-time Olympic medalist, he now works as a TV and radio broadcaster.

Are you a fan of pizza?

I actually love pizza. I don’t have it too often, but I just came back from Italy and I had some absolutely amazing pizzas over there. It’s great because it’ll give me a good base to judge all the pizzas we’re going to be judging for Pizza Week.

How was the pizza in Italy?

I have a lot of old diving friends that live in Rome. One of our buddies owns this little spot, it’s called Rosemary’s Pizza. It’s a little joint, thin crust pizzas, but all sorts of different kinds, from a regular tomato sauce kind of pizza, to a kind of lard pizza, to eggplant. We had all kinds. It was all just really tasty and the crust was so crispy.

I guess when you’re an athlete, you can’t eat pizza every day.  That must have been a real treat.

Ha! Treat is the right word. I’ve been retired from diving for five years but I still want to keep fit as much as possible. You try to exercise, maintain a balanced lifestyle, so that every once in a while you can treat yourself with something that puts a smile on your face – like pizza!

You’ve been to so many countries. Have you tried all their pizzas?

I’ve been so privileged and lucky enough to go around the world and discover all the different styles of pizzas. Everyone has their own recipe, but it’s still pretty special to go to Italy and have a pizza the way they do it there. I’ve been to Rome more than 15 times and I still get mesmerized by their way of doing things. On this last trip, one of the surprising things, we had this pizza that’s made with lard. It’s called strutto di maiele, and basically you’re just eating fat, but it’s just so tasty, so good!

One thing about pizza is it’s simple. I find it’s something that brings people together because it’s not all sophisticated. We’re all eating with our hands, eating from the same plate. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, we’re all just sharing a meal and some good conversation.

Writer: Robbie Dillon